Monday, November 29, 2010


The long Thanksgiving holiday weekend has ended, most of you are getting back into your regular routines, and your dogs and cats are still wondering what actually happened over that 4-day period.  Did your pet travel with you?  Did you leave your pet in a kennel?  Did you include your pet in any of your holiday festivities?  Does your pet easily get back into its normal life patterns following such a disruption?  Helpful Buckeye suspects that most pets handle these occurrences better than their owners... except, of course, those pets suffering from Separation Anxiety (as we discussed in the last 3 issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats).

For many pet owners, the Thanksgiving weekend holiday is just a "practice run" for the longer Christmas/New Years holiday period.  Try to learn from what you did right and what you did wrong with your pet over Thanksgiving...then apply that knowledge to the biggie coming up at the end of December.

Most respondents said that a "one dog" regulation would never catch on in the USA (90%)...while just about half of our readers have used a pet sitter (45%).  Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Any comments can be submitted to Helpful Buckeye at:  or through the "Comments" icon at the end of this issue.


1) From the Humane Society of the United States comes this news release:

Yesterday (23 NOV) a seemingly odd couple took to the schools of New Haven, Connecticut to talk to kids about animal cruelty.

HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle and the Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick—a man on the path to personal and professional redemption after his downfall from dogfighting—visited Pacelle's hometown.

There he delivered the message that dogfighting is a dead-end road that leads dogs to the grave and young men to prison.

Vick honored the commitment he made to Pacelle in a jail cell almost two years ago: to become an anti-violence advocate, helping with The HSUS' End Dogfighting campaign.

Read the rest of the story at:

This story of dog abuse has received a lot of press coverage ever since it first became public several years ago.  Now that Michael Vick's Philadelphia Eagles have one of the best records in the NFL and Vick is being mentioned in conversations about the league MVP, his history with fighting dogs has started to take center stage again.  How Vick continues to pursue his commitment to helping the HSUS with its anti-dogfighting campaign should count for just as much as his efforts on the football field.

2) Also, from the Humane Society of the United States, is this offer for a Children's Pet Poetry Contest:

Do you know a third, fourth, or fifth grader with a beloved pet (or pets!) and a way with words? Encourage him or her to enter the National Children's Pet Poetry Contest!

The deadline for entries isn't until 31 JAN 2011, so there's plenty of time for you to get a youngster involved:


All vertebrates have a thyroid gland. In mammals, it is usually bi-lobed and located just back of the larynx (voice box), adjacent to the lateral surface of the trachea (wind pipe). 

Thyroid hormones are the only iodine-containing organic compounds in the body. Thyroxine (T4) is the main secretory product of the normal thyroid gland. However, the gland also secretes several other iodine-containing compounds, which assist in normal thyroid function. Thyroid hormone secretion is regulated primarily by way of a negative-feedback control mechanism that connects the pituitary and hypothalamus regions of the brain with the thyroid gland. The pituitary gland sends its message to the thyroid gland in the form of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH).

Causes Of Thyroid Disorders:

Diseases involving the thyroid gland arise either from not enough or too much thyroid hormone being produced. In dogs, Hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormone) is by far the more common of these disorders.  With hypothyroidism, impaired production and/or secretion of the thyroid hormones result in a decreased metabolic rate. This disorder is most common in dogs.

Although dysfunction anywhere in the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis may result in thyroid hormone deficiency, >95% of clinical cases of hypothyroidism in dogs appear to result from destruction of the thyroid gland itself (primary hypothyroidism). The 2 most common causes of adult-onset hypothyroidism in dogs include lymphocytic thyroiditis, which means that lymphocytes and other types of white blood cells have infiltrated the gland, displacing normal thyroid cells, and atrophy (shrinkage), for unknown reasons, of the thyroid gland. Other rare forms of hypothyroidism in dogs include cancerous destruction of thyroid tissue.
In cats, iatrogenic (induced unintentionally by a medical treatment) hypothyroidism is the most common form. Hypothyroidism develops in these cats after treatment for hyperthyroidism with radio-active iodine, surgical removal of the thyroid gland, or use of an antithyroid drug. Naturally occurring hypothyroidism is an extremely rare disorder in adult cats. Hyperthyroidism in cats will be a topic for discussion in an upcoming issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats.

Clinical Findings:

Although onset is variable, hypothyroidism is most common in dogs 4-l0 yr old. It usually affects mid- to large-size breeds and is rare in toy and miniature breeds. Breeds reported to be predisposed include the Golden Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Irish Setter, Miniature Schnauzer, Dachshund, Cocker Spaniel, and Airedale Terrier. There does not appear to be a sex predilection, but spayed females appear to have a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism than unspayed females.

A deficiency of thyroid hormone affects the function of all organ systems; as a result, clinical signs are diffuse and variable.

Many of the clinical signs associated with canine hypothyroidism are directly related to slowing of cellular metabolism, which results in development of mental dullness, lethargy, intolerance of exercise, and weight gain without a corresponding increase in appetite. Mild to marked obesity develops in some dogs. Difficulty maintaining body temperature may lead to "feeling chilled"; the classic hypothyroid dog is a heat-seeker. Alterations in the skin and hair coat are common. Dryness, excessive shedding, and retarded regrowth of hair are usually the earliest dermatologic changes. Alopecia (thinning of the hair) without scratchiness, usually the same on both sides of the body, may involve the abdomen and sides of the torso, the back surfaces of the thighs, top of the tail, under the neck, and the top of the nose. This can occur in about two-thirds of dogs with hypothyroidism. Alopecia, sometimes associated with a darkening of the skin, often starts over points of wear, such as the elbows, knees, and ankles.

Swelling of facial features resulting in a puffy appearance and thickened skin folds above the eyes, together with slight drooping of the upper eyelid, gives some dogs a “tragic” facial expression.

In un-neutered dogs, hypothyroidism may cause various reproductive disturbances.


In dogs, hypothyroidism is probably one of the most overdiagnosed diseases. Many diseases and conditions can mimic hypothyroidism, Definitive diagnosis of canine hypothyroidism requires careful attention to clinical signs, routine laboratory testing, and demonstration of low serum concentrations of total or free thyroid hormones that are unresponsive to TSH administration.

The classic blood abnormality is an increase of the amount of cholesterol, which occurs in about 80% of dogs with hypothyroidism. The value of serum cholesterol determination as a screening test for hypothyroidism cannot be overemphasized.  A regular blood panel can also show anemia if hypothyroidism is a chronic issue. The benchmark test for the disease, though, is a thyroid level called a T4. If it is low and the dog is showing clinical signs consistent with the disease, more likely than not that is the correct diagnosis.

To really confirm the disease, other tests can be performed. Some veterinarians will even recommend a thyroid biopsy if they suspect the low thyroid is secondary to a cancer.


Once the diagnosis is made, treatment is relatively easy.  Your veterinarian will place your pet on a thyroid hormone replacement to supplement its low thyroid levels. This is usually a twice-a -day medicine and almost always must be given for life. Periodically, blood levels will need to be checked, and regular office visits are a must to monitor weight and clinical signs. The good news is that these dogs should on to lead normal lives. The most important indicator of the success of this therapy is clinical improvement.  And once starting treatment, these dogs will magically lose weight...if the weight gain was due to the hypothyroid condition. This always makes owners feel good.  Reversal of the changes in the skin and hair coat and the body weight should not be fully assessed until after 1-2 months of therapy.

If clinical signs of hypothyroidism remain despite the use of reasonable doses of thyroid hormone, the following must be considered: 1) the dose or frequency of administration is improper; 2) the owner is not complying with instructions or is not successfully administering the product; 3) the animal is not absorbing the product well, or is metabolizing and/or excreting it too rapidly; 4) the product is outdated; or 5) the diagnosis is incorrect.

Staying in touch with your veterinarian and having regular exams of your dog will be important as the progress of this therapy moves forward.


According to Rachel Hirschfeld, an attorney who specializes in animal law and founder of the New York County Lawyers Association's Animal Law Committee, over 500,000 companion animals were euthanized this year because their pet owners died, moved into nursing homes or assisted-living situations, or otherwise were no longer able to care for them, and left them behind without enforceable plans.

As tricky as it is to decide who should care for your human kid, it can feel equally tricky to pick an entrusted pet guardian.

Turns out, designating two sets of potential caregivers -- and a trustworthy executor to dispense the funds over time -- is the first step in setting up a pet trust. In the event that your primary pick is unwilling or unable to take on the responsibility, you have a built-in backup plan.

Once that decision is out of the way, you need to get your wishes down -- -- in writing. If you think that typing up a Word document will cut it, think again. Pet trusts aren't recognized under federal tax law -- the IRS labels pets as property -- but they are allowed under law in 28 states, where enforcement is discretionary. Translation: Consult an attorney versed in estate planning who can advise on how much you should allocate for Fido's upkeep. If you over-fund, the courts can intervene, like during the Leona Helmsley controversy, and pare back huge awards.

"There are so many variables to consider before you can estimate how much to put into a trust," says Patricia Kauffman, Director of Bequests at The Humane Society of the United States. The owner needs to account for the pet's age, health, grooming needs, location and the size of the animal, because a big dog's needs will cost more than a small one (although a smaller breed will most likely live longer).

To get your own pet estate planning off the ground, there are several smart resources online including the Doris Day Animal League ( ), the Humane Society of the United States ( ), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ( ), and an ASPCA-recommended website, ( ), which offers legally enforceable document-creation packages from $39.


The Ragamuffin is a large cat with substantial bone structure and a luxurious, medium-long coat. Known for their large, expressive eyes and impressive size, adult males can grow as to be as heavy as 25 pounds. Both sexes tend to be muscular, with a fatty pad on the lower abdomen. The ragamuffin's longish, silky coat comes in all colors and, according to the Cat Fancier's Association, is surprisingly easy to maintain, with little matting or clumping.

The origin of the ragamuffin breed can be traced back to a 1960s car accident, according to the United Kingdom RagaMuffin Society. As the story goes, California breeder Ann Baker developed the breed after a feral cat named Josephine, fed by a neighbor, was struck by a car. Following the accident, Josephine was nursed back to health and delivered a litter of exceptionally sociable kittens. Impressed with the kittens, which would go limp like a ragdoll when held, Baker established the ragdoll breed. Thus, the name has more to do with the cat's personality than its appearance. The name was changed to ragamuffin in 1994 by a group of breeders wishing to sidestep Baker's trademark and continue developing the breed.

The ragamuffin's affectionate, cuddly personality is the hallmark of the breed. According to the CFA, ragamuffins typically thrive on human attention, often greeting their owners from room to room. The breed is also noted to be extremely patient and gentle with children. Known for being calm lap cats, ragamuffins spring into action when their toys come out to play.


1) From the folks at, comes this list of several sites offering pet product discounts.  Check it out at:

2) The ASPCA Online Store has many holiday selections available for your pet at:

3) A great site for all-natural pet treats is ZooToo.  They have several types for both dogs and cats:


1) OK, you may or may not have seen this story this past week about dogs being more clever than cats:

Helpful Buckeye has already received several e-mails from incensed cat owners, disputing the findings of this study.  Not to be outdone, a few dog owners e-mailed to say, "Right on!"

2) As a partly related follow-up to that study, check out these interviews with dog owners about whether or not their dog is "street smart".  Go to:  and click on the video.

3)  During a full moon, we know that tides will shift strongly, animals and people may act weird and strange things can happen that night. Anecdotal stories about animals' reactions to the effects of the full moon abound.

According to a July 2007 study by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, full moon emergency room visits for pets increase compared to the rest of the month, to 23 percent higher for cats and 28 percent higher for dogs.

Why? No one really knows.  Any opinions???

4) For all those of you who watch the various productions of CSI on TV, here is a new and very interesting twist on that theme:

"ANIMAL CSI: University of Florida program teaches investigators how to solve crimes against dogs, cats and other creatures"

Read the whole story about the program that Dr. Melinda Merck has pioneered at the University of Florida:

5) Helpful Buckeye likes to include at least one "feel good" story each week.  Even though this story will probably require a few Kleenex tissues, it's still about feeling good:


The Pittsburgh Steelers went to Buffalo this week and had to go into overtime to barely beat the hapless Bills, 19-16.  The Steelers were undoubtedly looking ahead to next week's big game at the Raven's.

The Ohio State Buckeyes finished the regular season with a thumping of Michigan, our 7th consecutive win against the Wolverines.  Our record is 11-1 but, even though we'll probably be in one of the BCS bowl games, the loss at Wisconsin cost us a chance at the Championship game.  For almost every other college team in the USA, this would have been a great season.  However, for a team with the realistic goal of a National Championship, this year will be one of muttering, "Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda"....


This past Friday, Helpful Buckeye got an invitation to join a good friend at the Arizona State/UCLA football game down in Tempe.  It was a wonderful day for us to get out of the cold temperatures here in Flagstaff and bask in the warm sun of the Phoenix area.  We got to see an impressive offensive production by ASU during the game...which they won, 55-34.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye usually start their annual Christmas movie festival on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.  Some of these we watch by ourselves, others we enjoy with friends.  We have a collection of about 14-15 of these Christmas-themed movies that we really like to see...over and over again!  Our first movie this year was Holiday Inn.  What a great movie, with so many popular songs by Irving Berlin....

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

Monday, November 22, 2010


The rush to get everything in order for Thanksgiving will be keeping most of you busy this week.  Helpful Buckeye will streamline this week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats just a bit so that our readers can enjoy this issue as well as spend some time preparing for the holiday.

Several of you e-mailed Helpful Buckeye this past week asking what kind of dog Sam is (Cathy, from Florida...her account of kennel selection).  Sam is a Pomeranian and a very good representative of the breed!  More on "Poms" further down the page.

The poll questions from last week showed that most of you (75%) did NOT choose your current dog based on its characteristics meeting your family's life style.  Also, only 2 respondents (5%) indicated they have had a legal claim against them as a result of their dog biting someone.  Remember to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.


This week's discussion will finish the topic of Separation Anxiety

A Necessary Component of Separation Anxiety Treatment

During desensitization to any type of fear, it is essential to ensure that your dog never experiences the full-blown version of whatever provokes his anxiety or fear. He must experience only a low-intensity version that doesn’t frighten him. Otherwise, he won’t learn to feel calm and comfortable in situations that upset him. This means that during treatment for separation anxiety, your dog cannot be left alone except during your desensitization sessions. Fortunately there are plenty of alternative arrangements:

• If possible, take your dog to work with you.
• Arrange for a family member, friend or dog sitter to come to your home and stay with your dog when you’re not there. (Most dogs suffering from separation anxiety are fine as long as someone is with them. That someone doesn’t necessarily need to be you.)
• Take your dog to a sitter’s house or to a doggy daycare.
• Many dogs suffering from separation anxiety are okay when left in a car. You can try leaving your dog in a car—but only if the weather is moderate. Be warned: dogs can suffer from heatstroke and die if left in cars in warm weather (70 degrees Fahrenheit and up)—even for just a few minutes. DO NOT leave your dog in a car unless you’re sure that the interior of your car won’t heat up.

In addition to your graduated absences exercises, all greetings (hellos and goodbyes) should be conducted in a very calm manner. When saying goodbye, just give your dog a pat on the head, say goodbye and leave. Similarly, when arriving home, say hello to your dog and then don’t pay any more attention to him until he’s calm and relaxed. The amount of time it takes for your dog to relax once you’ve returned home will depend on his level of anxiety and individual temperament. To decrease your dog’s excitement level when you come home, it might help to distract him by asking him to perform some simple behaviors that he’s already learned, such as sit, down or shake.

To Crate or Not to Crate?

Crate training can be helpful for some dogs if they learn that the crate is their safe place to go when left alone. However, for other dogs, the crate can cause added stress and anxiety. In order to determine whether or not you should try using a crate, monitor your dog’s behavior during crate training and when he’s left in the crate while you’re home. If he shows signs of distress (heavy panting, excessive salivation, frantic escape attempts, persistent howling or barking), crate confinement isn’t the best option for him. Instead of using a crate, you can try confining your dog to one room behind a baby gate.

Provide Plenty of “Jobs” for Your Dog to Do

Providing lots of physical and mental stimulation is a vital part of treating many behavior problems, especially those involving anxiety. Exercising your dog’s mind and body can greatly enrich his life, decrease stress and provide appropriate outlets for normal dog behaviors. Additionally, a physically and mentally tired dog doesn’t have much excess energy to expend when he’s left alone. To keep your dog busy and happy, try the following suggestions:

• Give your dog at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity (for example, running and swimming) every day. Try to exercise your dog right before you have to leave him by himself. This might help him relax and rest while you’re gone.
• Play fun, interactive games with your dog, such as fetch and tug-of-war..
• Take your dog on daily walks and outings. Take different routes and visit new places as often as possible so that he can experience novel smells and sights.
• If your dog likes other dogs, let him play off-leash with his canine buddies.
• Frequently provide food puzzle toys, like the KONG, the Buster Cube, the Tricky Treat Ball™ and the Tug-a-Jug™. You can feed your dog his meals in these toys or stuff them with a little peanut butter, cheese or yogurt. Also give your dog a variety of attractive edible and inedible chew things. Puzzle toys and chew items encourage chewing and licking, which have been shown to have a calming effect on dogs. Be sure to provide them whenever you leave your dog alone.
• Make your dog “hunt” his meals by hiding small piles of his kibble around your house or yard when you leave. Most dogs love this game!
• Enroll in a reward-based training class to increase your dog’s mental activity and enhance the bond between you and your dog. Contact a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for group or private classes that can give you and your dog lots of great skills to learn and games to play together. After you and your dog have learned a few new skills, you can mentally tire your dog out by practicing them right before you leave your dog home alone.
• Get involved in dog sports, such as agility, freestyle (dancing with your dog) or flyball.

Medications Might Help

Always consult with your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist before giving your dog any type of medication for a behavior problem.

The use of medications can be very helpful, especially for severe cases of separation anxiety. Some dogs are so distraught by any separation from their pet parents that treatment can’t be implemented without the help of medication. Anti-anxiety medication can help a dog tolerate some level of isolation without experiencing anxiety. It can also make treatment progress more quickly.

On rare occasions, a dog with mild separation anxiety might benefit from drug therapy alone, without accompanying behavior modification. The dog becomes accustomed to being left alone with the help of the drug and retains this new conditioning after he’s gradually weaned off the medication. However, most dogs need a combination of medication and behavior modification.

If you’d like to explore this option, speak with your veterinarian, a veterinary behaviorist or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist who can work closely with your vet.

What NOT to Do

Do not scold or punish your dog. Anxious behaviors are not the result of disobedience or spite. They are distress responses! Your dog displays anxious behaviors when left alone because he’s upset and trying to cope with a great deal of stress. If you punish him, he may become even more upset and the problem could get much worse.

This concludes our 3-part series on Separation Anxiety.  This information was adapted from the ASPCA.
The Pomeranian is a cocky, animated companion with an extroverted personality. This compact little dog is an active toy breed with an alert character and fox-like expression. Today, the Pomeranian is a popular companion dog and competitive show dog. They can come in all colors, patterns, and variations although orange and red are the most popular. He has a soft, dense undercoat with a profuse harsh-textured outer coat. His heavily plumed tail is set high and lies flat on his back. He is alert in character, exhibits intelligence in expression, is buoyant in deportment, and is inquisitive by nature. The Pomeranian is commanding and animated as he gaits.

A Look Back

The breed’s name originally came from the historical region of Pomerania (now present day Germany and Poland). Originally weighing nearly 30 pounds, the dog served as an able herder of sheep in its larger form. They were not well known until 1870, when the Kennel Club (England) recognized the so-called Spitz dog. In 1888, Queen Victoria fell in love with a Pomeranian in Florence, Italy, and brought the specimen back to England, influencing its popularity dramatically.

Right Breed for You?

Pomeranians are very intelligent dogs that love to please. Because of their outgoing temperaments, they can be very good family dogs with the right training. Due to their small size they don’t require much exercise, but are an energetic breed that needs attention from their people frequently. They possess a thick double coat, which needs to be brushed on a regular basis.  Pomeranians ranked 14th in popularity in 2009, according to registrations with the AKC.

• Toy Group; AKC recognized in 1888.
• Ranging in size from 3 to 7 pounds, with the ideal weight for the show specimen being 4 to 6 pounds. 
• Bred down from sled and herding dogs, companion.


1) Thirty years after China imposed a one-child policy to limit population growth, authorities are turning their attention to overcrowding by man's best friend.  Authorities in Shanghai are considering a one-dog policy.  For the rest of the details, go to:

2) As the holiday season approaches, more people will start to consider New Year's resolutions related to physical and emotional improvement.  This year, there's a place where dog owners can get help adopting some similar resolutions for Fido, including weight loss and emotional well-being.  Arizona Dog Sports in Scottsdale opened earlier this year to help dog owners reach those goals for their pets.  The work-out program sounds like it might have a lot of appeal:

3) The holiday season is upon us—but for some, celebration does not come easy. With the economic downturn having dire effects, struggling families across our nation are forced to face one of the most devastating decisions of their life—the abandonment of their beloved pet.

As millions continue to file for unemployment, many families find they can no longer afford the costs of pet care, while others become evicted from their homes and are unable locate pet-friendly housing. The harsh reality is, with shelter intake rates on the rise, countless numbers of companion animals face euthanasia in overcrowded shelters—but the ASPCA is here to help:

4) A very sad situation occurred this past week in a suburb of Phoenix.  A hero dog who helped save U.S. soldiers from a suicide bomber in Afghanistan was euthanized by mistake at an Arizona animal shelter.  For the rest of the story, go to:

 Without passing any further judgement on who was at fault in this situation, this terrible accident is a startling example of what can happen if your dog gets away from you and becomes "lost".  Make yourself more aware of how easy it is for your pet to become separated from you.

5) This past Thursday was the Annual Great American Smokeout and The American Veterinary Medical Association offers this podcast on the health risks of tobacco smoke to pets:,_for_You_and_Your_Pets

6) A few weeks ago, we discussed the idea of using a pet sitter when you don't want to board your pets in a kennel.  There are a lot of important considerations you should make when choosing a pet sitter, but price is a pretty major one. To determine which cities reign supreme when it comes to locating dedicated, reasonably priced pet sitters, the pet care experts at: (Sittercity) took a look at factors like availability, actual job postings, and, of course, hourly rate.

Believe it or not, the best city in the USA for finding a pet sitter is...Milwaukee!  Check out the rest of the top 10 cities on this list:

7) As a final treat for your Thanksgiving enjoyment, watch Jesse, the Jack Russell Terrier, show off some pretty impressive tricks:

This video was suggested and submitted by Ken, from Flagstaff.

The Pittsburgh Steelers played the hated Oakland Raiders at home.  This game has always brought back memories of the battles waged between these 2 teams back in the 1970s.  The Steelers won, in a blowout.

The Ohio State Buckeyes men's basketball team went to Florida to play the Gators this past week.  The #4 Buckeyes clobbered the #9 Gators on their home court in Gainesville.

The Pitt Panthers men's basketball team, ranked #5, won their 2 games in a tournament at Madison Square Garden against 2 ranked teams.  So, both of Helpful Buckeye's alma maters are starting their seasons with high expectations for the year.


In an interesting connection to the OSU Buckeyes beating up on the Florida Gators, Helpful Buckeye and Desperado went to dinner at an interesting restaurant, out in the country, with some good friends and we all shared an appetizer of "blackened alligator".  It does have a certain symmetry, doesn't it?

Mark Twain expressed his "Thanks" in this response to a question about Thanksgiving: "You ask me for a sentiment which shall state how much I have to be thankful for this time of year. For years it has been a rule with me not to expose my gratitude in print on Thanksgiving Day, but I wish to break the rule now and pour out my thankfulness; for there is more of it than I can contain without straining myself. I am thankful -- thankful beyond words -- that I had only $51,000 on deposit in the Knickerbocker Trust, instead of a million; for if I had had a million in that bucket shop, I should be nineteen times as sorry as I am now. Trusting this paean of joy will satisfy your requirement, I am Yours truly, Mark Twain."  - letter to editor of New York World, 27 October 1907

Be sure to enjoy a piece of pumpkin pie on Thursday...Helpful Buckeye will for sure be doing so....

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

Monday, November 15, 2010


None of our readers need Helpful Buckeye to remind them that Thanksgiving Day is less than 2 weeks away. However, Helpful Buckeye suspects that at least some of you need to be reminded about the dangers associated with Thanksgiving Day festivities.

From 2 of our previous issues of Questions On Dogs and Cats, Helpful Buckeye offers these reminders from the ASPCA and the American Kennel Club of how to protect your pet during the Thanksgiving holiday.

From the ASPCA:

Talkin’ Turkey...If you decide to feed your pet a little nibble of turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Don't offer her raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.
Sage Advice...Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.
No Bread Dough...Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.
Don't Let Them Eat Cake...If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.
Too Much of a Good Thing...A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.
A Feast Fit for a Kong...While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them rawhide strips, Nylabones or made-for-pet chew bones. Or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

And, from the AKC:

Never give turkey bones to your dog; they pose a serious choking hazard for dogs.
• Always keep an eye on the Thanksgiving table and secure leftovers and garbage to prevent your dog from going through holiday foods.
Don’t give your dog scraps from the holiday buffet. Stuffing, pies, cookies and fancy hors d’oeuvres are inappropriate foods for dogs and may make them sick.
Keep burning candles on high tables or mantels out of the way of your dog’s wagging tail.
Alcohol is toxic for dogs, even in small amounts.
• If you host a party, remember that some guests may be uncomfortable around dogs. Your dog may, in turn, be uncomfortable or frightened around a large group of unfamiliar people. You may want to confine your dog to a crate or a room that will not be used by guests.
• Stick as closely as possible to your normal routine. Try not to vary your dog’s feeding, walking and playtime schedule.

It's always nice to hear from a reader that a recent topic has benefited them or their pet. Cathy, from Florida, sent the following in an e-mail:

Just wanted to let you know that your blog this week helped since I have to put Sam in a kennel while we go away for Christmas. I had checked with the vet and also a friend of mine uses the kennel we picked for her dog. We went up and got all the paper work done first, checked it out and liked what we saw. They even have a swimming pool for the pets if they want it. And while we were there we watched a couple guys throwing frisbees for 2 german shephards. They really work with the animals to see they are happy. The attendant noted that Sam was a "rescue" dog and said they always try to give rescues a lot of extra loving. I also told her about him being an escape artist and she marked that. Then she said we could bring Sam up for "orientation" once or several times if we wanted. We could leave him a couple hours while we went to lunch or shopping. So one day I took him up. They made a big sign for his "suite" that noted the rescue thing and the escape artist thing so I felt good about that. When we picked him up a couple hours later, he seemed fine and they told me he seemed okay and just looked all around and didn't to fuss or anything. I'm going to take him up once more before we go. But it looks good so far. Your blog helped me know that we seemed to have picked a good place. Thanks.

Last week's poll questions showed that only about 1/3 of respondents had experience with a "separation anxiety" diagnosed dog. Also, every respondent indicated that they had learned about their boarding kennel choice from either their veterinarian or a friend (or both). Be sure to answer this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

You can also answer these questions or ask any questions of your by sending an e-mail to:


Last week's discussion of Separation Anxiety covered the description of the disorder, its symptoms, and other medical problems to rule out first. This week's discussion will turn to the treatment options available.

What to Do If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety

Treatment for Mild Separation Anxiety

If your dog has a mild case of separation anxiety, counterconditioning might reduce or resolve the problem. Counterconditioning is a treatment process that changes an animal’s fearful, anxious or aggressive reaction to a pleasant, relaxed one instead. It’s done by associating the sight or presence of a feared or disliked person, animal, place, object or situation with something really good, something the dog loves. Over time, the dog learns that whatever he fears actually predicts good things for him. For dogs with separation anxiety, counterconditioning focuses on developing an association between being alone and good things, like delicious food. To develop this kind of association, every time you leave the house, you can offer your dog a puzzle toy stuffed with food that will take him at least 20 to 30 minutes to finish. For example, try giving your dog a KONG® stuffed with something really tasty, like low-fat cream cheese, Cheez Whiz® or low-fat peanut butter, frozen banana and cottage cheese, or canned dog food and kibble. A KONG can even be frozen so that getting all the food out takes even more of your dog’s time. Your dog might also love a Buster® Cube, a Kibble Nibble™ or a TreatStik® filled with kibble. Be sure to remove these special toys as soon as you return home so that your dog only has access to them and the high-value foods inside when he’s by himself. You can feed your dog all of his daily meals in special toys. For example, you can give your dog a KONG or two stuffed with his breakfast and some tasty treats every morning before going to work. Keep in mind, though, that this approach will only work for mild cases of separation anxiety because highly anxious dogs usually won’t eat when their guardians aren’t home.

Treatment for Moderate to Severe Separation Anxiety

Moderate or severe cases of separation anxiety require a more complex desensitization and counterconditioning program. In these cases, it’s crucial to gradually accustom a dog to being alone by starting with many short separations that do not produce anxiety and then gradually increasing the duration of the separations over many weeks of daily sessions.

The following steps briefly describe a desensitization and counterconditioning program. Please keep in mind that this is a short, general explanation.

Desensitization and counterconditioning are complex and can be tricky to carry out. Fear must be avoided or the procedure will backfire and the dog will get more frightened. Because treatment must progress and change according to the pet’s reactions, and because these reactions can be difficult to read and interpret, desensitization and counterconditioning require the guidance of a trained and experienced professional. For help designing and carrying out a desensitization and counterconditioning plan, consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB or ACAAB) or a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB). If you can’t find a behaviorist, you can seek help from a Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT), but be sure that the trainer is qualified to help you. Determine whether she or he has education and experience in treating fear with desensitization and counterconditioning, since this kind of expertise isn’t required for CPDT certification.

Step One: Predeparture Cues

As mentioned above, some dogs begin to feel anxious while their guardians get ready to leave. For example, a dog might start to pace, pant and whine when he notices his guardian applying makeup, putting on shoes and a coat, and then picking up a bag or car keys. (If your dog doesn’t show signs of anxiety when you’re preparing to leave him alone, you can just skip to step two below.) Guardians of dogs who become upset during predeparture rituals are unable to leave—even for just few seconds—without triggering their dogs’ extreme anxiety. Your dog may see telltale cues that you’re leaving (like your putting on your coat or picking up your keys) and get so anxious about being left alone that he can’t control himself and forgets that you’ll come back.

One treatment approach to this “predeparture anxiety” is to teach your dog that when you pick up your keys or put on your coat, it doesn’t always mean that you’re leaving. You can do this by exposing your dog to these cues in various orders several times a day—without leaving. For example, put on your boots and coat, and then just watch TV instead of leaving. Or pick up your keys, and then sit down at the kitchen table for awhile. This will reduce your dog’s anxiety because these cues won’t always lead to your departure, and so your dog won’t get so anxious when he sees them. Please be aware, though, that your dog has many years of learning the significance of your departure cues, so in order to learn that the cues no longer predict your long absences, your dog must experience the fake cues many, many times a day for many weeks. After your dog doesn’t become anxious when he sees you getting ready to leave, you can move on to the next step below.

Step Two: Graduated Departures/Absences

If your dog is less anxious before you leave, you can probably skip the predeparture treatment above and start with very short departures. The main rule is to plan your absences to be shorter than the time it takes for your dog to become upset. To get started, train your dog to perform out-of-sight stays by an inside door in the home, such as the bathroom. You can teach your dog to sit or down and stay while you go to the other side of the bathroom door. You can teach your dog to sit or down and stay while you go to the other side of the bathroom door. Gradually increase the length of time you wait on the other side of the door, out of your dog’s sight. You can also work on getting your dog used to predeparture cues as you practice the stay. For example, ask your dog to stay. Then put on your coat, pick up your purse and go into the bathroom while your dog continues to stay.

• Progress to doing out-of-sight stay exercises at a bedroom door, and then later at an exit door. If you always leave through the front door, do the exercises at the back door first. By the time you start working with your dog at exit doors, he shouldn’t behave anxiously because he has a history of playing the “stay game.”
• At this point, you can start to incorporate very short absences into your training. Start with absences that last only last one to two seconds, and then slowly increase the time you’re out of your dog’s sight. When you’ve trained up to separations of five to ten seconds long, build in counterconditioning by giving your dog a stuffed food toy just before you step out the door. The food-stuffed toy also works as a safety cue that tells the dog that this is a “safe” separation.
• During your sessions, be sure to wait a few minutes between absences. After each short separation, it’s important to make sure that your dog is completely relaxed before you leave again. If you leave again right away, while your dog is still excited about your return from the previous separation, he’ll already feel aroused when he experiences the next absence. This arousal might make him less able to tolerate the next separation, which could make the problem worse rather than better.
• Remember to behave in a very calm and quiet manner when going out and coming in. This will lower the contrast between times when you’re there and times when you’re gone.
• You must judge when your dog is able to tolerate an increase in the length of separation. Each dog reacts differently, so there are no standard timelines. Deciding when to increase the time that your dog is alone can be very difficult, and many pet parents make errors. They want treatment to progress quickly, so they expose their dogs to durations that are too long, which provokes anxiety and worsens the problem. To prevent this kind of mistake, watch for signs of stress in your dog. These signs might include dilated pupils, panting, yawning, salivating, trembling, pacing and exuberant greeting. If you detect stress, you should back up and shorten the length of your departures to a point where your dog can relax again. Then start again at that level and progress more slowly.
• You will need to spend a significant amount of time building up to 40-minute absences because most of your dog’s anxious responses will occur within the first 40 minutes that he’s alone. This means that over weeks of conditioning, you’ll increase the duration of your departures by only a few seconds each session, or every couple of sessions, depending on your dog’s tolerance at each level. Once your dog can tolerate 40 minutes of separation from you, you can increase absences by larger chunks of time (5-minute increments at first, then later 15-minute increments). Once your dog can be alone for 90 minutes without getting upset or anxious, he can probably handle four to eight hours. (Just to be safe, try leaving him alone for four hours at first, and then work up to eight full hours over a few days.)
• This treatment process can be accomplished within a few weeks if you can conduct several daily sessions on the weekends and twice-daily sessions during the work week, usually before leaving for work and in the evenings.

Part 3 will appear next week.


Several of our readers have sent e-mails asking for advice on the breeds of dog they should consider when adding a dog to the family. The AKC has presented their suggestions in this article:

If you're considering expanding your clan by adding a canine, do you know what breed is best for your family? You need to look beyond which dog's coat is the same color as your couch, and really ask the important question: which breed's personality is the best fit for your family's lifestyle? With a little help from our friends at the American Kennel Club, including Gina DiNardo, Assistant Vice President of the AKC, we're offering helpful hints for narrowing down your decision.

If you think of your family as:

Super Sporty

Activity level is a major factor in determining the right dog for you and yours. An active family that loves to run and play will find that the border collie is a good match for them. This athletic dog was bred to work, and he'll be happiest with a family that keeps him physically and mentally stimulated.

Very Social

If you're a friendly family with plenty of guests dropping by, your best bet would probably be a sporting breed like the golden retriever, or herding dogs such as the Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Why? "They are eager to learn, want to please, are very intelligent, and many are naturally very social," DiNardo tells us.


Families that travel often and bring their dogs with them will do well with a "small, portable, toy breed like the Maltese" due to their size and relatively minimal exercise requirements, DiNardo tells us.

Happy Campers

A Labrador retriever is also a good choice for the active family, particularly if you enjoy the outdoors. This active breed is loyal and affectionate and will be thrilled to join you in hiking, camping, swimming, and, at the end of the day, lounging by the fire. It's no wonder this is the most popular breed in America!

Couch Potatoes

Not every family loves the outdoors, which is just fine because not every dog loves spending the day outside either! If you'd prefer to hang out at home or chill on the park bench rather than go out for a run with your furry friend, consider a breed that's similarly laid-back, like the bulldog. This bright breed is loving and loyal and requires only light exercise. Another smart choice for easygoing families is the pug. Though playful and sweet, the pug doesn't need much exercise because it was bred to be a house pet.

Living in a Little Layout

If your home quarters are tight, a small toy breed could be the perfect match. Consider the Yorkshire terrier. Although they've got energy and spunk to spare, the fact that they're so small makes this breed a great choice for small spaces.

Raising Itty-Bitty Babies

"Larger dogs like the Leonberger are more suitable for babies and toddlers than small breeds because they are sturdier and can handle tugs and missteps better," says DiNardo.

Allergic to Animals

As animal allergies become more and more common, families are increasingly seeking dogs that don't shed or produce much dander. If this is a consideration for your family, you have several options. A Portuguese water dog (like Bo Obama) is an energetic, loyal breed that will require considerable daily exercise. Poodles also needs daily exercise, and with their sharp minds, they'll enjoy games that test their brains too.

Looking for a Look-Out Dog

"Most working breeds, like the doberman pinscher, and some herding breeds, such as the Belgian sheepdog, have a natural instinct to protect their home, family, or livestock," DiNardo says, so these breeds are a natural fit if you're looking for a dog that will guard your house. However, "they should be socialized well to avoid becoming overprotective," she adds.

Ultimately, while these categories are a great starting point in researching breeds, it is important not to be too focused on your "ideal" dog because every pet is different. If you do have lots of specific requirements for a new dog, DiNardo encourages you to reconsider whether getting a dog is really the right thing for their family right now. " If your family has neighbors who do not deal well with barking, or if your family is very busy and does not have the time to devote to feeding, walking, exercising, and playing with a dog, then it is best to wait until the time is right. Getting a dog is a commitment, and you want to make sure you can give it all the attention it needs and deserves."


A member of the Hound Group, the Pharaoh Hound is the 146th most popular breed in the United States, according to 2008 American Kennel Club® registration statistics. Noble and graceful, the Pharaoh Hound resembles the majestic Sphinx found in the Egyptian desert. The breed also possesses an endearing quality unique among all dogs – his blush! When happy or excited, the Pharaoh's nose and ears turn a deep rosy color.

A Look Back

The Pharaoh Hound originated in ancient Egypt as far back as 3000 B.C. The breed is pictured on numerous tombs, showing his status as companion and hunter in ancient times. The breed is thought to have been brought from Egypt by the Phoenicians when they settled on the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo near Italy. They are bred for rabbit hunting and are the national dog of Malta.

Did You Know...

The Pharaoh Hound is one of the oldest domesticated dogs in history. As a cherished companion of the Egyptians, the dogs were buried with honor alongside their masters. Today, he is a medium-sized dog that should be graceful, powerful, and above all – fast. His striking coat ranges in color from tan to chestnut to red golden, with white markings on the tip of the tail, chest, toes and on the center line of the face. Today, the breed's willingness to please makes them excellent candidates for hunting, obedience and coursing.

Is a Pharaoh Hound the right breed for your family?

Intelligent, friendly and playful, the Pharaoh Hound is affectionate with its family and generally gets along well with other dogs. Extremely athletic, they require daily exercise, but should be kept in a fenced area, as they possess a great keenness for hunting and may try to chase after small animals. The fence should be at least six feet high, as this breed can jump quite high from a near standstill. The breed's short, glossy coat is low-maintenance.


1) If this statement sounds like something you'd say, "Keeping cat hair under control is no easy challenge. One minute you're giving your pet a thorough brushing (and collecting enough hair to stuff a pillow), and the next minute, it's leaving another fine carpet of long hair all over the furniture," then perhaps you should browse throught these 5 cat grooming products:

De-Shedding Tool for Cats

2) With the holidays fast-approaching, if you have any children on your gift list, then you might want to consider these 4 stories about animals:


1) The Insurance Information Institute says that dog bites accounted for more than 1/3 of all homeowner or renter policy liability claims last year, with an average claim of $24,840. Most insurance companies will cover dog bites, but 1 free bite is all you get. After that, your insurance company can charge a higher premium or exclude your dog from coverage altogether.Some firms require a liability waiver or charge more for breeds deemed to be dangerous such as Pitbulls and Rottweilers.

2) Should Canine Paratroopers be Helping Battle the Taliban in Afghanistan? For a human to step out of an airplane at 5-10,000 ft. in the air is crazy enough, but what do you think is going through a dog's mind when it goes out of the same airplane strapped to a commando's chest? Check out this news story and determine for yourself whether or not you go along with this:

3) Dogs are frequently credited with helping people through tough times, whether it be an illness, old age, or a family loss. Now, cats are beginning to be included in that group of "precious pets":

The Pittsburgh Steelers played their 3rd consecutive night game, this time at home against the New England Patriots, and got their collective butts handed to them.  New England surpassed the Steelers in every aspect of the game and clearly showed that they are the class of the NFL.  The Steelers have a long way to go to reclaim any sense of respectability.


Helpful Buckeye is starting to think of some hiking and biking challenges to include on the Quadathlon Adventure of 2011. Several of my friends have offered suggestions, some of which might even be actually doable. At this point, I've pretty much zeroed in on 3 possible good event ideas and have started making lodging reservations, since at least 2 of them will be "out of town."

Helpful Buckeye's regular racquetball partner not only has completed his recovery from his 2nd hip replacement surgery but is also now playing a pretty decent game of racquetball again! I've played a lot of racquetball in the last 35 years and it still really impresses me that he is able to play at this level with 2 artificial hips! You Da Man, Jim....

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

Monday, November 8, 2010


Jimmy, from Denver, sent an e-mail asking about the lead photo in last week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats. Helpful Buckeye took that shot on the road to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The aspens have been in their gold splendor this fall, not only at the Grand Canyon but also right here in the Flagstaff area. More samples of golden aspens will be offered at the end of this issue.

Continuing along the "golden" line of thought, we're all familiar with the Golden Rule...the one that goes: "Do unto others...." The American Veterinary Medical Association has adopted a policy statement from the California Veterinary Medical Association that is titled: "Golden Rules Of Pet Ownership." Regular readers of this blog will recognize many themes that have been discussed in previous issues. For your review:

Golden Rules of Pet Ownership

That the Executive Board reaffirm AVMA endorsement of the California Veterinary Medical Association's Golden Rules of Pet Ownership, which read as follows:

The joy of pet ownership also brings responsibility. As a responsible pet owner, I WILL:

• Avoid making an impulsive decision about getting a pet. I will learn about and carefully select a pet suited for my home and yard, and my lifestyle.
• Adhere to local ordinances including licensing and leash requirements.
• Control my pet for its own safety.
• Have my pet spayed or neutered, or take responsibility for my pet's offspring.
• Keep only pets for whom I can provide a pleasant and safe environment, adequate food and shelter, and companionship. I will be a responsible caretaker throughout my pet's life.
• Do my part to help solve animal control and overpopulation problems.
• Provide regular health care as recommended by my veterinarian including rabies vaccination and other inoculations.
• Clean up after my pets and appropriately dispose of their waste. I will prevent my pet from being unnecessarily noisy or aggressive.
• Provide identification for my pets by using ID tags or other means.
• Respect the living environment.

Last week's poll questions showed that 100% of respondents clean their pets' food and water bowls either daily or weekly. Also, 50% of you feel that you might recognize the signs of anemia in your pet; 66% expect to see the movie, Due Date; Only 1/3 of you have used a pet sitter. Remember to respond to this week's poll questions in the column to the left.

Any questions or comments should be sent to:  or registered in the Comment section at the end of the blog.


In the so-called "puppy-mill capital of the world," Missouri voters passed the nation's first statewide ballot measure to protect dogs from the worst abuses at puppy mills. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) campaigned for this legislation because at puppy mills in Missouri, dogs are typically crammed into small and filthy cages, denied veterinary care, exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and given no exercise or human affection. The proposition requires large-scale dog breeding operations to provide each dog under their care with sufficient food; clean water, housing and space; necessary veterinary care; regular exercise; and adequate rest between breeding cycles. The measure also prohibits any breeder from having more than 50 breeding dogs for the purpose of selling their puppies as pets, and creates a misdemeanor crime of "puppy-mill cruelty" for any violations. For more information on this good news, go to:


A behavioral disorder known as Separation Anxiety has been getting a lot of attention in veterinary literature the last 10 years. Chances are pretty good that all of our readers have either had a pet be diagnosed with this disorder or have known someone with such a pet. This begins a 3-part series on this interesting but often frustrating disorder.

Separation Anxiety

One of the most common complaints of pet parents is that their dogs are disruptive or destructive when left alone. Their dogs might urinate, defecate, bark, howl, chew, dig or try to escape. Although these problems often indicate that a dog needs to be taught polite house manners, they can also be symptoms of distress. When a dog’s problems are accompanied by other distress behaviors, such as drooling and showing anxiety when his pet parents prepare to leave the house, they aren’t evidence that the dog isn’t house trained or doesn’t know which toys are his to chew. Instead, they are indications that the dog has separation anxiety. Separation anxiety is triggered when dogs become upset because of separation from their guardians, the people they’re attached to. Escape attempts by dogs with separation anxiety are often extreme and can result in self-injury and household destruction, especially around exit points like windows and doors.

Some dogs suffering from separation anxiety become agitated when their guardians prepare to leave. Others seem anxious or depressed prior to their guardians’ departure or when their guardians aren’t present. Some try to prevent their guardians from leaving. Usually, right after a guardian leaves a dog with separation anxiety, the dog will begin barking and displaying other distress behaviors within a short time after being left alone—often within minutes. When the guardian returns home, the dog acts as though it’s been years since he’s seen his mom or dad!

When treating a dog with separation anxiety, the goal is to resolve the dog’s underlying anxiety by teaching him to enjoy, or at least tolerate, being left alone. This is accomplished by setting things up so that the dog experiences the situation that provokes his anxiety, namely being alone, without experiencing fear or anxiety.

Common Symptoms of Separation Anxiety

The following is a list of symptoms that may indicate separation anxiety:

Urinating and Defecating

Some dogs urinate or defecate when left alone or separated from their guardians. If a dog urinates or defecates in the presence of his guardian, his house soiling probably isn’t caused by separation anxiety.

Barking and Howling

A dog who has separation anxiety might bark or howl when left alone or when separated from his guardian. This kind of barking or howling is persistent and doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything except being left alone.

Chewing, Digging and Destruction

Some dogs with separation anxiety chew on objects, door frames or window sills, dig at doors and doorways, or destroy household objects when left alone or separated from their guardians. These behaviors can result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped paws and damaged nails. If a dog’s chewing, digging and destruction are caused by separation anxiety, they don’t usually occur in his guardian’s presence.


A dog with separation anxiety might try to escape from an area where he’s confined when he’s left alone or separated from his guardian. The dog might attempt to dig and chew through doors or windows, which could result in self-injury, such as broken teeth, cut and scraped front paws and damaged nails. If the dog’s escape behavior is caused by separation anxiety, it doesn’t occur when his guardian is present.


Some dogs walk or trot along a specific path in a fixed pattern when left alone or separated from their guardians. Some pacing dogs move around in circular patterns, while others walk back and forth in straight lines. If a dog’s pacing behavior is caused by separation anxiety, it usually doesn’t occur when his guardian is present.


When left alone or separated from their guardians, some dogs defecate and then consume all or some of their excrement. If a dog eats excrement because of separation anxiety, he probably doesn’t perform that behavior in the presence of his guardian.

Why Do Some Dogs Develop Separation Anxiety?

There is no conclusive evidence showing exactly why dogs develop separation anxiety. However, because far more dogs who have been adopted from shelters have this behavior problem than those kept by a single family since puppyhood, it is believed that loss of an important person or group of people in a dog’s life can lead to separation anxiety. Other less dramatic changes can also trigger the disorder. The following is a list of situations that have been associated with development of separation anxiety.

Change of Guardian or Family

Being abandoned, surrendered to a shelter or given to a new guardian or family can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Change in Schedule

An abrupt change in schedule in terms of when or how long a dog is left alone can trigger the development of separation anxiety. For example, if a dog’s guardian works from home and spends all day with his dog but then gets a new job that requires him to leave his dog alone for six or more hours at a time, the dog might develop separation anxiety because of that change.

Change in Residence

Moving to a new residence can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Change in Household Membership

The sudden absence of a resident family member, either due to death or moving away, can trigger the development of separation anxiety.

Medical Problems to Rule Out First

Incontinence Caused by Medical Problems

Some dogs’ house soiling is caused by incontinence, a medical condition in which a dog “leaks” or voids his bladder. Dogs with incontinence problems often seem unaware that they’ve soiled. Sometimes they void urine while asleep. A number of medical issues—including a urinary tract infection, a weak sphincter caused by old age, hormone-related problems after spay surgery, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, neurological problems and abnormalities of the genitalia—can cause urinary incontinence in dogs. Before attempting behavior modification for separation anxiety, please see your dog’s veterinarian to rule out medical issues.


There are a number of medications that can cause frequent urination and house soiling. If your dog takes any medications, please contact his veterinarian to find out whether or not they might contribute to his house-soiling problems.

Other Behavior Problems to Rule Out

Sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether a dog has separation anxiety or not. Some common behavior problems can cause similar symptoms. Before concluding that your dog has separation anxiety, it’s important to rule out the following behavior problems:

Submissive or Excitement Urination

Some dogs may urinate during greetings, play, physical contact or when being reprimanded or punished. Such dogs tend to display submissive postures during interactions, such as holding the tail low, flattening the ears back against the head, crouching or rolling over and exposing the belly.

Incomplete House Training

A dog who occasionally urinates in the house might not be completely house trained. His house training might have been inconsistent or it might have involved punishment that made him afraid to eliminate while his owner is watching or nearby. 

Urine Marking

Some dogs urinate in the house because they’re scent marking. A dog scent marks by urinating small amounts on vertical surfaces. Most male dogs and some female dogs who scent mark raise a leg to urinate.

Juvenile Destruction

Many young dogs engage in destructive chewing or digging while their guardians are home as well as when they’re away.


Dogs need mental stimulation, and some dogs can be disruptive when left alone because they’re bored and looking for something to do. These dogs usually don’t appear anxious.

Excessive Barking or Howling

Some dogs bark or howl in response to various triggers in their environments, like unfamiliar sights and sounds. They usually vocalize when their guardians are home as well as when they’re away.

Part 2 will appear next week.


How many of you have wondered if you're using the right boarding kennel for your dog or cat?  Or, you've moved to another town and don't know anything about the available kennels.  What do you do then?

Choosing a Boarding Kennel

Pros and cons of using a boarding kennel

Your pet depends on you to take good care of it—even when you have to be out of town. Friends and neighbors may not have the experience or time to properly look after your pet, particularly for longer trips. Leave pet care to the professionals, such as a pet sitter or boarding kennel.

A facility specializing in care and overnight boarding allows your pet to:
  • Avoid the stress of a long car or airplane ride to your destination.
  • Stay where he's welcome (unlike many hotels).
  • Receive more attention and supervision than he would if home alone most of the day.
  • Be monitored by staff trained to spot health problems.
  • Be secure in a kennel designed to foil canine and feline escape artists.
Potential drawbacks to using a boarding kennel include:
  • The stress related to staying in an unfamiliar environment.
  • The proximity to other pets, who may expose your pet to health problems.
  • The difficulty of finding a kennel that accepts pets other than dogs and cats.
  • The inconvenience of the drive over, which can be especially hard on a pet easily stressed by car travel.
How to find a good kennel

Ask a friend, neighbor, veterinarian, animal shelter, or dog trainer for a recommendation. You can also check the Yellow Pages under "Kennels & Pet Boarding." Once you have names, it's important to do a little background check.

First, find out whether your state requires boarding kennel inspections. If it does, make sure the kennel you are considering displays a license or certificate showing that the kennel meets mandated standards.

Also ask whether the prospective kennel belongs to The Pet Care Services Association, a trade association founded by kennel operators to promote professional standards of pet care. Besides requiring members to subscribe to a code of ethics, The Pet Care Services Association offers voluntary facility accreditation that indicates the facility has been inspected and meets its standards of professionalism, safety, and quality of care. Check with your Better Business Bureau to see whether any complaints have been lodged against a kennel you are considering.

After selecting a few kennels, confirm that they can accommodate your pet for specific dates and can address your pet's special needs (if any). If you're satisfied, schedule a visit.

What to look for

On your visit, ask to see all the places your pet may be taken. Pay particular attention to the following:
  • Does the facility look and smell clean?
  • Is there sufficient ventilation and light?
  • Is a comfortable temperature maintained?
  • Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
  • Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.)
  • Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
  • Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow?
  • Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor?
  • Are cats housed away from dogs?
  • Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
  • Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
  • How often are pets fed?
  • Can the owner bring a pet's special food?
  • What veterinary services are available?
  • Are other services available such as grooming, training, bathing?
  • How are rates calculated?
How to prepare your pet

Be sure your pet knows basic commands and is well socialized around other people and pets; if your pet has an aggression problem or is otherwise unruly, she may not be a good candidate for boarding. Before taking your animal to the kennel, make sure she is current on vaccinations.

It's also a good idea to accustom your pet to longer kennel stays by first boarding her during a short trip, such as a weekend excursion. This allows you to work out any problems before boarding your pet for an extended period.

Before you head for the kennel, double-check that you have your pet's medications and special food (if any), your veterinarian's phone number, and contact information for you and a local backup.

When you arrive with your pet at the boarding facility, remind the staff about any medical or behavior problems your pet has, such as a history of epilepsy or fear of thunder. After the check-in process, hand your pet to a staff member, say good-bye, and leave. Avoid long, emotional partings, which may upset your pet. Finally, have a good trip, knowing that your pet is in good hands and will be happy to see you when you return.


A couple of weeks ago, Helpful Buckeye ran an article about the "world's longest cat"...and the star of the article was a Maine Coon.  Just what is a Maine Coon cat?

Appearance: Maine Coons generally are very large, long-haired cats with shaggy coats and pronounced manes. They are most notable for their size -- males can weigh between 13 and 18 pounds, and females between 9 and 12 -- and the massive amounts of long hair that sprouts from all over their bodies, except their faces. Their shaggy, water-repellent coat sprouts from every inch of their bodies, between toes, around the neck and, most impressively, all over their peacock-like tail. Their faces are long and expressive, and they have large, lynx-like ears.

History: Although many people believe that Maine coons came about in Maine naturally, most breeders today believe that they were created when oriental long-haired cats came to Maine in its early history and bred with the shorthairs that already were there. They were first written about for an 1861 cat show, so they presumably had existed for a few decades before that. Although popular in the late 1800s, they fell out of fashion by around the turn of the century with the arrival of the exotic cats of Europe and Asia. However, since the 1950s, they have been undergoing a resurgence, and today are one of the most popular breeds of cat in America.

Personality: Maine coons are extroverted but quiet cats. Maine coons are a good balance of kitten playfulness and cat calm. They remain playful for years, yet are never obsessed with attention or too clingy. Although trusting in nature, they can be wary around new people and animals. But like most cats, once they become used to someone, they are friendly.


1) Our friends at put a variety of cat toys to the test and here are some of their favorites for keeping even the hardest-to-please cat entertained and engaged:

Check out the 4 different toys and see if your cat might like any of them.

2) The folks at have come up with a nice description of 3 different kinds of dog leashes and what situation each of them suits best:


1) This is more of a general interest than something that is specific for dogs or cats.  However, Helpful Buckeye realizes that many people don't really understand what is meant by "organic food".  Take a few minutes to listen to this podcast from the AVMA that will answer your questions about organic food: 

2) Also from the AVMA comes this advice about disease precautions for hunters:

3) Where's the best place to get pet news, fun ideas and activities, heartwarming pet stories, behavior tips, advice, and more for free? (other than Questions On Dogs and Cats, of course!) Your inbox, of course!  The HSUS is offering a free e-mail service that you might be interested in.  Check it out at:

4) To give you a little enjoyment at the end of this section, take a look at this film clip of cat agility training:

The Pittsburgh Steelers don't play until Monday Night Football.  All else is irrelevant at this point!


Most of the aspens in the Flagstaff area have been in the height of their golden glow the last few weeks.  Enjoy this selection:

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~